Wal-Mart claims victory in B.C. labour fight

Retail giant fights off UFCW's attempt to unionize 10 workers at a store in Cranbrook, B.C.

Wal-Mart is claiming victory following a ruling by the British Columbia Labour Relations Board in what the retailer called a “controversial case” involving attempts to unionize auto department workers at one store.

Wal-Mart said the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) was trying to “isolate” 10 workers in the tire lube express department at a store in Cranbrook, B.C., as a distinct bargaining unit, separate from the rest of store which employs more than 200 workers.

“The union was attempting to unionize the 10 auto department workers after losing several store-wide votes of Wal-Mart workers in various locations across Canada,” Wal-Mart said in a press release.

In rendering the decision, the chair of the B.C. Labour Relations Board, Brent Mullin, said the carve out of the tire lube express department workers was inappropriate under any test in British Columbia, Wal-Mart said.

The retailer said the UFCW is attempting a similar move at a store in Surrey, B.C., but, in light of this ruling, Wal-Mart will move to have that application dismissed as well.

“Wal-Mart Canada believes that the carving out of a very small group of select workers from the total team of associates in a store for the purpose of unionization is unrepresentative and undemocratic,” the retailer said in a press release. “Wal-Mart believes in workplace democracy and that a representative bargaining unit should include the broadest number of hourly associates in a single store location.

Andy Neufeld, a spokesman for UFCW Canada, said the union plans to appeal the ruling.

“We find it to be a very curious decision,” Neufeld told the

Canadian Press.

Voting history

Wal-Mart pointed out that its employees have voted store-wide against being represented by the UFCW in the following previous votes:

•Thompson, Man., June 27, 2003

•Jonquiere, Que., April 2, 2004

•Thompson, Man., June 4, 2004

•Windsor, Ont., March 8, 2005

•Brossard, Que., April 1, 2005

•Terrace, B.C., Oct. 4, 2004 (Labour Board dismissed union's application for certification due to lack of associate support for the union.)

Wal-Mart has 268 stores and more than 70,000 employees across Canada.

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